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Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith and players talk about loss against the Saints

Transcripts from Buccaneers' post game interviews




 (Opening statement)

"We kind of knew what was at stake today. Normally you play your best ball when this much is on the line. It's amazing we lost, but by seven points. You have to give the Saints a lot of credit. They played well [on] both sides of the football. Things we did, you just can't win football games [like that]. Defensively, third downs killed us, big plays really hurt us an awful lot. [We] didn't make any plays, no takeaways on the defensive side. Offensively, you have to score more points. It's as simple as that. Dropped balls, missed the field goal, things that cause you to lose football games, we did it all."

(On his message to the team about still having a chance to make the playoffs)

"The message for us is we need to win a game. Quick turnaround. When you play like that you want to get back on the field as soon as possible. We get our wish with the Thursday night game, but it's about us winning a game. It's about us playing better when we have an opportunity to win a football game. Today was not the case. As far as being ready, I thought we would be ready. Nothing said we weren't ready to play except for our play. Saints have passed us, the Rams up next, we'll get ready for them."

(On if he thinks the team is out of the playoffs)

"No, not out. There's three games left to go and we're two out of it. Right now we are. It's one game and us playing better ball. We didn't put a good product on the field today."

(On giving up third downs and committing penalties)

"You said it, favorable third downs – third-and-longs – we should win. Whether it be penalties or just not playing ball, we can't have it."

(On if quarterback Jameis Winston was not as sharp today as he usually is)

"No one played their best ball. As a football team, we didn't play well. Every area, yes, we need to play better. Every, every area we didn't play well. It's kind of simple as that."

(On if the third-and-21 play to New Orleans wide receiver Willie Snead was good execution by Saints' offense)

"I saw that. You don't need to ask me. That's what it was. We were in the two-deep, you saw that. Good execution on their part, bad on ours. Yes, you're right."

(On how linebacker Bruce Carter filled in for Kwon Alexander middle linebacker)

"Nobody played well today. It's kind of simple as that. There were plays to be made out there today that we did not make. I wish I could sit up here and tell you someone played well. We didn't. Maybe the video will say something else. Right now, a day like today, just being real no one, none of us, of course starting with the head football coach. That's as bad a job as I have done."

(On players going down with injuries and how the short week will factor into their recovery)

"It will be a challenge, but no one really wants to hear that. It's got to be next guy up. We still have 53 guys on the roster. That'll be our mindset. We still have options. With all the guys that went down, in the back of my mind right now I kind of know what the option will be for us this week."

(On choosing to punt on fourth down with 4:21 left to go in the game)

"I thought we could back them up there and stop them. That's why I did that. [You] can second guessing it right now. I would make the same decision 10 out of 10 times on that."

(On how these games happen)

"I've been in this a long time. These games happen and I can't give you a reason why. Yeah, we should've done this, should've done that, it happened, we didn't play well, they played better than we did. Even with all that we lost by seven points, if we just had down a few things [differently]. Is our football season [over]? No, just real disappointment right now, but that bad taste will get out of our mouths if we can take care of business against the Rams this week."

(On if New Orleans played more inspired that Tampa Bay)

"They played better than we did. You can give the adjectives to it. They played better ball than us. It's a simple approach. I wish I can tell you exactly why we didn't convert on third down or fourth down or whatever it was. I can't, don't have a lot of time to think about it either. We played bad, they won today, we'll play better next week."

(On if wide receiver Vincent Jackson's long reception on the first play of the game getting called back due to a penalty set the tone for the game)

"That kind of told us a little bit. That was a snapshot of what our day would be. We did have some costly penalties throughout the day, but you can just put that along with everything else. Again, we haven't played like that. We saw some things out there today that we haven't done this season and that's not who we are. We'll get away from that this week."

(On if wide receiver Mike Evans lost his poise toward the end of the game)

"I lost mine, we all did. You shouldn't lose your poise on something like that. Mike knows he can't put his football team in a tough situation, but I'm more concerned about our play. We can straighten out Mike calming down a little bit."

(On Evans committing five pass interference penalties this season)

"Big receivers get called for a lot of things a lot of times. That's about the only answer I can give for you. When you're a big receiver and you're trying to get off the line of scrimmage it can be called a lot of different ways, but that's what you have to do."

(On what he said to his defense after New Orleans scored its second touchdown)

"We got beat today. You guys can go with that. No it wasn't a pep talk I was giving them. We we're playing bad at the time so you can figure out exactly what that meeting of the minds was about."

(On not executing plays)

"We had a shot right up until [the end]. With all the things we did wrong – dropped passes, overthrown passes, not making tackles, not making plays, bad calls on my part – even with all of that, we had a chance right up until the end. Then, offensively where we had the football – could had made a couple of plays. Defensively, we could have gotten a couple of stops or at least one stop. Right up until we opportunities, but we weren't making plays today."

* *


(On his thoughts about his personal performance today)

"The first half [was] unfortunate. First play, explosive, but we get called with a holding. So that definitely took our momentum, especially that first drive. But, you know, we have to bounce back. Quick turn around, we got the Rams, and play better.

(On if wide receiver Donteea Dye's dropped pass changed the momentum)

"No, one play doesn't determine the outcome of the game. I know I made a lot of plays, but there's a lot of plays that I should have made out there that would have helped us win the game."

(On if the call penalty on 40-yard gain shifted momentum)

 "We had the ball in that first quarter, I think we had the ball once in the first quarter. I think we had the ball three times in the first half. So, a 40-yard gain – it's about flipping field position, too. When you give Drew Brees good field position, it's not good."

(On why the offense couldn't seem to click on the field today)

"We had some ups and downs. We just got to get back to the drawing board, got to watch some film, and see what's going on. That's all. When we were out there everyone's playing, everything's happening fast, and we just have to get situated."

(On if he wishes he could have the pass back where the ball outgained running back Charles Sims)

"No, actually 20 yards down the field, No. 59 [Dannell Ellerbe] hit Sims and it slowed him down. So, yup, that throw probably would have been right on the money [otherwise]. But we didn't get the call. Like I said, there's a bunch of unfortunate things that happened out there, but we can't hurt ourselves, that's the main thing. We can't hurt ourselves and we have to bounce back."

(On seeing wide receiver Adam Humphries get into the end zone to score)

"Oh man, it was amazing. The whole week it was just like, 'We [are] going to get Adam [Humphries] a touchdown.' We actually had a play dialed up for him that we didn't get to run today that I was going to throw it to him no matter what. But I'm happy we got him in."

(On whether he thinks Tampa Bay is still in the playoff race)

"Absolutely. That's how my mind works. And I guarantee you when I get there Monday, I'm going to make sure the guys know that, too."

(On the takeaway from today's game)

"The good news is we have a game Thursday, so it's a quick turn around. We definitely have a chance to redeem ourselves. But as an offensive unit, we can't make it hard on ourselves. When you're playing one of the best quarterbacks in the game, you can't make it hard on yourself. The defense held them to 24 points and those guys can put up points like nobody else. This is one of the games where the offense had to come through and we started off slow."

(On if the New Orleans defense keyed in on Mike Evans)

"Not necessarily. It's just the opportunities we had to give him the ball – they mixed up their looks on third-and-long. We had a lot of two-man and they pressured us, they pressured us a lot. Usually we try to get Mike [Evans] the ball. On first and second down, we're giving Doug [Martin] the rock. When we don't get the ball as much as we're used to getting the ball, that kind of limits the play calling. Because [with] three possessions in the first half, you got to take advantage of your opportunities every single time.

(On the difficulty in building momentum during the long spurts without the ball)

"It's difficult, but, at the same time, we can't beat ourselves. We got to take advantage of our opportunity, that's the best way I can say it. I've got to do a better job, everyone has to do a better job. The offense as a whole that first half, we didn't look like us. But one thing we do consistently we always are going to fight, we are always going to battle, but sometimes it's not good enough."

(On if the team appeared to be flat at the start of the game)

"If the team feels flat it's our job to get them out of that. I feel like we started slow. When you start slow, it's either one [of two] things that can happen. Either you can bounce back, which I feel like we did – I think that we did because of the intensity in the second half – or you can just lie down. And we did not lie down. So I'm glad that we bounced back and we fought hard."

(On how good Drew Brees performed today)

"He was amazing. When you convert, I think it was four third-and-extra-longs – I mean, when you are playing against the best, we knew it as an offense [that] we have to show up. Drew Brees just outplayed me. This was the game for me to have a breakout game and put some points on the board and he played better."

(On if he thought Tampa Bay would score on their final possession)

"Yeah, but, you know, when those times come we have to take advantage of that opportunity, but why even get to that moment? We've been in that moment a lot of times this year and the majority of the time it didn't work out for us. So we can't put ourselves in that predicament, especially when we have the offensive weapons that we have. I have to take advantage of the weapons we have and put more points on the board."

(On whether New Orleans mixed up their defense more than Tampa Bay was expecting)

"No, not necessarily. Them having a new defensive coordinator, it was hard for us to get the tendencies and basically know what they were doing on third downs. This had to be one of our worst third-down performances we've had in a long time. And that's situational football. That's how you win football games. You look at the way the game turned out, Drew Brees, they converted a lot on their third downs and we didn't. That's why I say for quarterback play, me as a quarterback lost the battle against Drew Brees, definitely, in the third-down competition.


(On the team's performance)

"Yeah, we didn't play great at all and they played better than us. Hats off to those guys."

(On how he felt about only being targeted two times today)

"I think it was a little more than that, but that's how it is. Everybody is talking about [New Orleans'] numbers that are [the] last [ranked] defense and stuff like that, but every dog has its day. They played great today and hats off to those guys."

(On being frustrated with some of the officiating calls today)

"I'm a human being and when things that I can't control don't go my way I get a little upset, but I've got to be more mature than that. I could have cost my team – we went and scored on that drive – but I almost cost my team and I can't do that. I've got to be more mature." 

(On how three-and-outs on offense set them back)

"A lot. You know, we've got to keep our defense off the field. Those guys get tired just like us and we've got to move the ball. We are a better offense than those guys' [New Orleans] defense, but not today."

(On the team not getting consistent outcomes week in and week out)

"Yeah, it's tough. We practice so hard but the ball didn't bounce our way today. Hats off to those guys."

(On mistakes costing the team opportunities)

"Today they [New Orleans] played well, but it's more on us. A lot of miscues, a lot of things like that – drops, I had a big drop at the end. It's on us."


(On if the penalty on Tampa Bay's first offensive play of the game took the air out of the team)

"I don't know, I can't really speak to that, especially since it was on the offensive side. I almost forgot about the play you were talking about, to be honest. That was a big play against us, but I don't think it had anything to do with it."

(On the defense not being able to get off the field on third down)

"The first two touchdowns, what we did a good job against Atlanta was we held them to field goals and that's what we were improving on. Then [New Orleans] got two touchdowns out of the gate and put our offense in a hole. I would say third downs – which has been the story with us – third downs and red zone, two things that were our Achilles heel today."

(On his fourth-quarter holding penalty against New Orleans wide receiver Brandin Cooks)

"It was man [coverage] and I guess I held him on his way out, and it was me just trying to make a football play. It happened and it put our team out of another chance, if we could have gotten the ball back. I feel terrible about that. I never want to be the person that put us in that type of position."

(On being disappointed about the loss and needing help to get in the playoffs)

"Very disappointing because things were happening the way that we needed them to happen. We just need to win out. Things probably would have fell into place and now we just dug ourselves in a hole. We still have stuff to fight for, but that's kind of how it happened."


(On defensive penalties costing game)

"You can't blame the game on penalties. We came out flat in the first quarter. We were down 14- nothing too fast. That is something me, as leader, I have to take pride in. I have to do a better job at getting guys ready, coming out, playing fast as soon as we get on the field. We weren't able to do that. We dug ourselves in a hole. We tried to make a comeback, but you shouldn't be put in that positon in the first place."

(On New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees' big performance)

"He's a great quarterback, he knows what he is doing. He knows how to read defenses. He was able to execute, find little seams in the [zone]. He just did a great job of executing."

(On worrying about this loss with a quick turnaround for Thursday's game)

"No, not at all. We have to put this game behind us real fast. A short week like you said We have to get back to work Monday and get ready for the St. Louis Rams."

(On linebacker Bruce Carter's performance)

"Bruce Carter did good, played pretty well. He had that chemistry already, he has been here for a long time. He is a veteran, he knows what he is doing."

(On the defense's struggles on third down)

"We just didn't do enough. We did a bad job of getting off the field on third down. That is something that we need to fix and we've got to fix that ASAP."

(On the defense not stopping New Orleans with 4 minutes left)

"Another bad situation by us. Like I said, as a leader, I need to do a better job of getting everybody ready. In those situations, we've got to be able to get off the field. They had a couple third down conversions on that drive also. We've got to do a better job. I got to take more pride in that and we can't put ourselves in that situation."


(On offense poor start early)

"You can't get a rhythm going. Those first three [drives], I think we had three three-and-outs in a row. I think if we get one first down right there you kind of get a rhythm going and we just couldn't get a rhythm early. We were able to find it coming out of the half. It's just very frustrating. We all left plays out on the field."

(On being a young team and this game as a learning moment)

"I think this team has learned a lot, especially from where they came from last year. Obviously I am new to the team, but seeing the growth from the beginning of the year until now, we're learning a lot. We're learning how to win the close ones and we learned from the ones that we lose close. I think we're learning that it takes every little thing to beat teams in the NFL. Nobody is easy. They're all getting paid a lot of money, they're all really good players. So you have to bring your best every week and I think this team is learning a lot."


(On the lack of offensive production)

"As a team we should score more points on [offense] and we didn't. We scored 17 – not very good. Give them some credit, but I just feel we left a lot out there on the field."

(On the offense's slow start)

"Yes we started bad. A bunch of three-and-outs. We're a team that doesn't have many three-and-outs and today we had a lot more than normal, so they controlled the ball quite a bit, we didn't. It was just not good enough."

(On wishing to take advantage of a struggling team early)

"Possibly, yes, that would have been nice, but we just didn't do it. We put ourselves in a hole on offense. It's hard to get out of those sometimes."

(On the stage being too big for the team today)

"No, I don't think so. It always comes down to blocking, tackling, throwing and catching and we just didn't do enough of it."

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